Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?

[Image of Uluru]
Uluru! Australians know big rocks when they see 'em...
Ever since I was a wee little lad, I have heard the common “Big Rock” challenge to God’s existence: “If God is omnipotent, can He make a rock so big that he can’t lift it?”

When it’s asked for fun as a discussion of logic conundrums, it’s one thing.  But when it is actually believed to be a successful argument against God’s existence, it’s just pathetic.  And, sadly, some do think it is an argument against God’s existence.

Then, in today’s Best of the Web Today feature in the Wall Street Journal, I read a very concise discussion & refutation of it by James Taranto — and he was discussing politics and constitutional logic, not theology, so it was pleasing all the more being a surprise appearance.  I’ve explained the illusion behind the question to others before, but he does it so concisely that I thought it worth mentioning here:

Think about that old Philosophy 101 question: If God is omnipotent, can he make a rock so big that he can’t lift it? It seems like a puzzle, but the answer is clearly no. The premise that God is omnipotent leads to the conclusion that he can both make and lift a rock of any size. “A rock so big that he can’t lift it” is a logically incoherent construct, not a limitation on God’s power.

The person asking the question simultaneously affirms and contradicts the premise of God’s omnipotence, creating a non-question.  It’s like asking, “Can God be simultaneously omnipotent and not omnipotent?”  The answer is no, as is the answer to its more fuzzily-worded “rock” puzzle variation.  So when posed that question we are free to answer “No,” understanding what the questioner probably does not: that the answer has nothing to do with a limitation on God’s abilities and everything to do with limitations on what kinds of rocks can exist.  (Like telling someone: “Using one color only, paint this birdhouse completely red and not-red.”  Your inability to do so relates to what colors can logically exist, not your ability to paint birdhouses.)

Taranto’s explanation is short and sweet, methinks.  So, if you’ve ever been stumped by the question, don’t be.  Just answer “No” and recommend that the individual take a good freshman logic course at his or her local community college.

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35 thoughts on “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?

  1. Even though the answer is likewise incorrect (and is undoubtedly meant to be), I like Josh McDowell’s wry answer in Evidence That Demands a Verdict: “Yes, and He can also create a bulldozer big enough to move it.”

    That sounds like something your Power-Pope-Wielding Boy might say once of sufficient age. 😀

  2. Pingback: Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it? (via Thoughts En Route) « The Chronicles of Johanan Rakkav

  3. I should’ve added that in the old version of Tomorrow’s World, this conundrum was brought up. The author noted it was a version of the “irresistible force versus the immovable object” conundrum. Both cannot be true at the same time. In the same way (he noted), while “all things are possible with God”, that doesn’t mean God can violate the laws of chess and still play chess (once again unlike, ahem, a certain boy). “All things” obviously means all things that make logical sense according to God’s own framework. (And, one may add, all things that are consistent with His value judgments of good and evil.)

  4. I always thought this question was paradoxical until I realized the answer, similar to what you said- if God ever did lift a rock, there would be no limit to his strength thus the weight of his created rock is not connected to the question of if He can lift it or not, it could increase and increase in weight beyond our imagination but still God could lift it.

    Thankfully He is busier with more important tasks such as saving the carnal souls of people who challenge God’s existence with conundrums concerning picking up rocks…

  5. Linda

    First I saw the question, then I thought——————no. God thinks the rock into existance and then He thinks move and it does.
    I enjoyed it Mr. Smith.
    I read the comments and they were equally interesting.

  6. Norbert

    To somewhat go off topic but the question does make me wonder about the scripture, “… I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20)

    Because sometimes people encounter circumstances in their life when it has less to do with making “a rock so big He can’t lift it” and more to do with ‘making a rock so big He won’t lift it’. Even when a person is being as diligent as they can be about prayer and fasting.

  7. The philosophical yet theological answer is that there are definitely some things that God cannot do, because God cannot do something that is outside of His nature, and limiting omnipotence would be contradictory to His nature. It’s the same as if someone were to bait you by asking if God can do anything, and then if you say yes, them asking “Then can God lie?” The correct answer (as spelled out in Scripture) is no, because as absolute Truth God cannot do anything that is contradictory to His nature.

    So making a logically incoherent statement about two contradictory statements regarding a single nature is a philosophical fallacy, which is why you rarely see this question asked any more amongst scholars.

  8. It was an interesting article from the standpoint it provoked thought. Not from the standpoint of whether it was true, but the psychology of the mind of the writer. As far as whether I could entertain the thought to be true, it was an insult to my spirit and felt it was an insult to God. I know I don’t need to be, but I find myself going to God’s defense in such situations. All knowing, it is not possible for the God I have known since childhood to make such a blunder. I know there is and has always been those who refute the existence of God or God’s power and presence. I am not one of them. It is interesting as much as insulting to the spiritual mind, that others believe or think these things are possible. I am grateful for the day, they will learn the truth. I will celebrate their new found wisdom and hope they will too.

  9. I know what you mean, Trish, but I’m not sure what article you are talking about. The only article I referred to is by a fellow who would agree with both of us.

  10. Thomas

    @rakkav errmm…yes? 🙂
    For instance: ‘How many angels fit on the head of a pin?’

    Such questions say more about those asking them than they do about God’s nature. Good point rakkav.

  11. Mr Smith and anyone else I confused………..I realize I was commenting on this article from the standpoint of if someone actually asked me that question. Essentially I responded from different perspective intentially. However, having said that, my answer specifically would be exactly as Rakkav stated 7/29 that “yes and He’d create a bulldozer big enough to move it.” I know the writer of the article was in agreement. I apologize for not making that clear. Working for most my life in the field of Mental Health, I fear word association stepped in and I was reminded of theories and debates from world religion in college that made light of God’s power,existence and plan. This blog you wrote made me think of many arguments over years of God related subjects. So I was tossing in comments I was reminded of relating to those who would refute and not agree. Sorry for the confusion. I think the question is good for the purpose of discussion, but would otherwise be an oxy moron for some others. The answer seemed like a no brainer in my circles, but was fun to read all the comments it invoked.

  12. Steve

    I like this post!

    Yeah, there’s an underlying contradiction in the universal of the premise (the universal is “what you’re talking about”). Logic has a list of principle theorems (“rules”).

    The proposition that omnipotent God can make a rock too big for him to lift breaks a number of these. One is called the “principle of contradiction or exclusion.” (aa’=0 and a+a=8, where 8 represents infinity).

    And there’s others. a+0=a, a8=a; a+8=8 and a0=0.

    It’s pretty simple when you boil it down. You can’t say that somebody has infinite ability and finite ability at the same time. It’s mutally exclusive!

  13. Steve

    Forgive me for piling on, but…

    A friend of mine once issued a challenge. “You can’t be moderate in all things; otherwise, you would be excessively moderate.” It took me a couple of pages of notebook paper to work that out.

    I actually thought about issuing you and your readers the same challenge. See what you had to say! But I figure skip it…

    There was a problem in the implied universal. I eventually told him, “in order for your proposition to be true, you have to agree that some acts are excessive, even if you only perform them one time.” For example, you cannot “moderately” jump out of a ten story building.

    You know, that started me thinking about law in general, and God’s law in particular? I mean, isn’t that the nature of law? Some acts are excessive, even if you perform them only one time?

  14. Ed Ewert

    Mark 14:36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

    I have the notion that something important is missing in the whole “rock too big” discussion. The question seems a petty and entirely physical version of a spiritual line of thought that is actually crucial. In Mark 14:36, Jesus prays that “all things are possible for you”, but in order for God the Father to actually achieve His plan of salvation, He had to carry it out in a certain way that would not allow him to “remove this cup”. As has been stated before, God cannot create righteous character by fiat, but His brilliant plan makes it possible to create righteous character in those willing to cooperate. God cannot create righteous spiritual character in those who resist.

  15. Thinker

    Actually,whatever is physical came from the spiritual, or spirit world. So whatever questions are asked about matter could be considered nothing to God anyways.
    Hope I’m making sense with this

  16. Steve

    @Ed… good point!

    Since all things are possible to God, He could indeed create righteous character by fiat. Yet He chose not to do. He chose to create us as free moral agents instead. WHY did He do that!

    Why did God raise up the ancient nation of Israel, give them His laws, but not the Holy Spirit (except for a tiny few)? WHY?

    WHY do we see horrific crimes and disasters happening on a daily basis? Where is God? Why doesn’t He do something?

    Indeed, God’s plan for mankind is the most mind-blowing knowledge a human being can know. Each step in the plan has a specific lesson to teach humanity. And it’s been in progress “from the beginning.”

    Yet most of the world has no idea! That’s why we forge ahead with the work. That’s why we announce the good news of the kingdom of God. That is the purpose of God’s Church! That is our duty!

  17. We have to be careful by what we mean when we use “all thngs are possible,” as there are limits to what God can do. For instance, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). And “righteous character by fiat” may be, like the rock God cannot lift, something that cannot logically exist. So there is no reason to believe that God can create righteous character by fiat–indeed, there are good reasons to believe that He cannot. Again, like that pesky rock, it would be a limit on what can logically exist, not truly an unnatural limitation on God.

  18. Steve

    This might be one of those subject so big, that things get lost in short little comments. I don’t know.

    God can indeed create righteous character by fiat. But we would be little more than pre-programmed robots. God wanted something more; something bigger. Consequently, He gave us free moral agency. In that sense, God cannot creat righteous character by fiat. True.

    Can God sin? No. He cannot sin because He will not sin.

    Some people claim that it was impossible for Christ to sin. Afterall, He was God in the flesh, and since God cannot sin, it was impossible for Christ to sin.

    Such an argument denigrates His sacrifice. It suggests that Jesus somehow had it easier than us; which devalues the whole purpose of His mission.

    Yes, Jesus could’ve sinned. He did not because He would not.

  19. You might be right about the “short little comments” observation, so let me make a longer one to see if it helps. Because you’re right about Jesus and wrong about God, but only because you contradict yourself. I think I can help (but don’t laugh if I flop!)…

    Correct: Jesus could have sinned and did not do so by choice. He “condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). No argument there. Jesus, having become flesh, could also die, something that would not have been possible without his becoming flesh. (Point there, elaborated on below.)

    As for God not being able to lie, those are Paul’s words, not mine: “cannot lie.” Just like He “cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Just like it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). And like “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13). God cannot act contrary to His nature and, given Who He is — the One who’s perfect will defines the foundation of reality — in these things the distinction between what God will not do and cannot do is irrelevant. If we trust God’s Word as a child, we will trust that these things about what God cannot do are true and not put words into the Bible’s mouth, as it were.

    We can only consider God omnipotent (Rev. 19:6) if we let the Bible define what “omnipotent” means and do not invest in it our own ideas. If God’s Word says He is omnipotent but that he cannot lie and go against His nature, we should be willing to yield to Scripture. It is only a contradiction when we let preconceived ideas (conceived without Scripture’s guidance) enter the discussion.

    And please note: These things do not contradict Christ’s experience — He was tempted (Hebrews 4:15), He was (for a time) mortal (Rom. 5:6), and He was not all-knowing (Matt. 26:39, Mark 13:32) while He was on earth in the flesh. All of this was possible because Christ emptied (Greek: kenosis) Himself of divine power and truly became flesh, as explained by Philippians 2:7 properly translated, as we have long explained in the Church (and as footnoted in the NKJV, I believe). There is no contradiction here, nor can one be crafted.

    And, finally, you are right: God could make us “little more than pre-programmed robots” by fiat. But by definition, that would not be godly character. Thus, in no sense can God create righteous character by fiat. Do you see?

    Robots? Yes. Godly character? No.

    I don’t mean to harp, but there really is something you can learn here, and I want to help without being confusing (and I know I can be confusing sometimes!). Or, if anything, I want practice in trying to teach it. 🙂

    If you say in your words that the product of one process (creation by fiat) is completely inferior to the product of the other process (creation with free moral agency), then the two products really are different. Yet, you call both results “righteous character” as if they are the same, while, at the same time, claiming simultaneously that they are different. Do you see the mistake? (And an easy one to make, by the way, so don’t feel bad!) You say that the “fiat” method produces an inferior result and that God wants “something more, something bigger.” I agree! Then the two results cannot be the same result. How can “righteous character” be “something more, something bigger” than “righteous character”? (You are on the threshold–just step over it!) It is because the creation by fiat is not righteous character. It is externally generated & enforced programming, not character–again, just as you say.

    If it is externally forced behaving and thinking, then it is not godly character, by definition. Thus, no: in no sense at all can God create godly, righteous character by fiat. Given the definition of what we mean by “godly, righteous character,” this is no more illogical than saying God cannot create a rock so big he cannot lift it. Actually, I think the two situations are related: The limitation is not with God; it is with what things can possibly exist. (Rather like asking, “Can God create by fiat something that cannot be created by fiat.” The answer is no, but not because of any problem with God. Something that cannot exist by definition simply cannot exist.) I’ll have to think about that more, but I do think there is merit to the thought.

    Whew! I know I went on a bit, but I thank you for the opportunity! 🙂 These are thoughts that have been bouncing around in my cranium for around a couple of decades, believe it or not, and I’ve never quite put them into words like this. Hopefully I can flesh them out better in time, and I appreciate the chance to practice. Also, it seems your real difficulty is with saying God can’t do something. If so, I really do recommend the “God and the Three O’s” article in the Sep-Dec 2007 LCN, as it discusses that topic amongst related ones from a biblical perspective, and it might help. (It was also used in the Living University “Biblical Doctrines” class a couple of years ago, I think, but I am unsure if it still is.) Thanks, again!

  20. Thinker

    Well,I have a question that has been in my mind for a time.
    How can God know what the future will be like as in the falling away and Laodecian verses. If the ones mentioned in the scriptures are really called and this is their only chance to make it, How could God know way in advance that those with free moral agency will fall away?
    How could He know what they will choose in advance? Same with the Laodecians.

  21. This is a little abstract, but I think it ties in. A illusionist was describing his art at a conference and said that it’s kind of funny that people come to his theater and watch him perform on his stage with his stage crew, his handkerchiefs and his specially-made box and are completely surprised when he makes someone disappear. In the same sense, God has created His universe, with His earth, His physics, His design and one could derive from Romans 9:14-24 that He influences human proclivities in various ways. Should it be such a surprise that God knows, for the most part, what will occur on smaller or larger scales?

    I should follow that up by saying that I was/am surprised by this concept, but when phrased this way, it puts it into perspective. It also helps me realize that God indeed knows what He’s doing, CAN do it and WILL do it.

  22. Thinker

    As far your answer to Steve,
    I don’t understand what “cannot lie” means as far as God can’t go against His nature. It sounds like He doesn’t choose,He is automatic in what He does. If that’s the case then why couldn’t He have created beings that cannot go against a nature that He put in them. Is Paul actually saying that He WILL not lie and that’s why He cannot lie?
    Hope I’m no being confusing.

  23. More good questions! 🙂

    [By the way, I’ve moved my comments into this nested/threaded format so that it is clearer what they are responding to. However, I have to admit I really don’t like the “nested reply” format. Hopefully the narrower window doesn’t make it too unreadable.]

    The theme here is exactly what I addressed in the “God and the Three O’s” article: We always (always, always, always) submit to what God says about Himself in his word versus what we may think “philosophically”, “logically”, etc. Not that logic is bad, it’s good! But logic is always at the mercy of assumption, and God’s Word must always inform those assumptions. So, what we think an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God is like makes no difference compared to what the BIBLE says about what an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God is like. We can only apply those three words to God if we accept how the Bible defines them.

    See the theme? We are dependent on God to tell us in His Word what He is like/not like, can do/cannot do. And, if it differs from our preconceived ideas, we change our ideas to match the Bible. If He says He cannot do something, we are OK with that. If He says He did not know something until a certain point, we trust Him.

    However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun trying to understand how these things can be true, as long as we don’t risk letting our fun overrule our commitment to Scripture’s truth and don’t risk allowing what “makes sense to us” cause us to misinterpret what Scripture says, or even to ad to what it says.

    When it comes to whether or not God can or can’t sin (note: not whether Jesus Christ on earth could or could not have sinned), we have to listen to Scripture, regardless of what our philosophical musings say. To see what this teaches us, let’s compare what the Bible says about how sin takes place with what the Bible says about God.

    James describes the process that produces sin in James 1:14-15, and at its heart is temptation. However, as he says in v.13, “God cannot be tempted by evil.” (Jesus clearly was while on earth, we know, though He is no longer, now that He is again glorifed in His previous state, John 17:5.) So, would God choose to sin out of random fickleness, in the absence of temptation? Again, we look to Scripture — in fact, in the next verses in the very same passage: Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom here is no variation or shadow of turning.”

    One thing to be remembered is what we teach about the Law of God in the Church: It reveals the mind and character of God. Note: For us, the Law is external, and God is writing it in our hearts & minds through His Holy Spirit (Jer. 31:33; Hebrews 8:10, 10:16). That is important: The Ten Commandments and God’s Law is not something external to Him that He aspires to maintain — it is who He is. Again, the Law reveals God’s character. For us, it is something we aspire to. For Him, it is who He is.

    That’s why the Holy Spirit is an aid to us in obedience: because the Holy Spirit is God’s essence, nature, and mind (e.g., 1 Cor. 2:10-12). The more we yield to His Spirit instead of our own natural spirit, the more we make the same choices He would make if we were Him. We learn to choose the light growing in us, as it were, as opposed to the darkness there — and, in turn, the darkness diminishes as the “old man” we were dies further and further (Rom. 6:6, et al.).

    As for God? “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

    Why do we believe what we believe about Jesus, God, free will, etc.? Because it is what Scripture says. If it is logical to us in other ways, that’s a plus, but God’s Word is the basis, foundation, and judge of what we believe. And if the Bible say that as we take on the nature of God we grow to a place where we cannot sin or abide in it (1 John 3:9), we have to be OK with that.

    I hope this helps!

  24. Howdy, Thinker, and I’m with you there, my friend! I talk about this, too, in the LCN article I referred to above, in addressing omnipotence and statements as in Gen. 22:12. While God knows all that can be known, individual moments of actual character formation may mean that our individual futures are being written at those moments and are thus not something that can be known. (Though, in less extreme cases there would be no such limitation. God probably knows with 100% accuracy if I am going to get a Dr Pepper out of the fridge in the next 30 minutes. In fact, I think I know, too. 🙂 ) Yet group activity & general trends is something much easier to predict, and even man with his limitations has gotten not too shabby at predicting statistically what groups will do under certain circumstances. I would think that God, who can see all circumstances, real and potential, and all relevant factors, can predict such large scale actions (e.g., you bring up church era behavior) with certainty. (His role in making the future happen, a la Isa. 46:10-11 figures into things, as well).

    The way Mr. John Ogwyn explained his thoughts to me once (and I think he said that he had gotten at least part of the idea from Mr. McNair, but I am not sure), was that it is like the difference between physics at the macro level and physics at the quantum level. Looking at an atom, the electrons orbiting the nucleus are quite random and not precisely predictable, although they are “fuzzily predictable” within certain parameters and probabilities. However, if we zoom away from the atom and notice that it is simply part of a molecule that is one small piece of a cue ball on a pool table about to be smacked into another pool ball, we see that on the larger scale things are much, much more precisely predictable. Hence, we can not predict when a particular pixel on our television will light up or not when the screen is showing static, yet we can hurl the Voyager II spacecraft into space for a remarkably predictable tour of the outer planets of the solar system, including a flyby of Neptune more than 2.5 billion miles away.

    Again, you might look at the article I mentioned, but hopefully this is a fun thought for consideration. 🙂

  25. Hi Mr. Smith (and Everyone),

    First, thanks for your recent article on the human mind in Tomorrow’s World. If you have time to read it, I think you will be most fascinated by The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong by David Shenk. He raises issues (many issues) which tie in very nicely with what you write about. I’ve only been able to skim the book so far (it was recommended to me by a friend), but what I’ve seen is most impressive.

    Second, thanks for not allowing me to indulge in a bit of private annoyance, publicly. 😀 That comment I submitted may have simply slipped under your radar screen, but given the flow of this thread that would still be just as well.

    Third, consider this. There is a thought process in all of us that perceives the hidden connections between all things, past, present and future. If I read you right, both you and I have that thought process at the very top of our mental hierarchies. Falling into the fallacy of materialistic determinism (as far as the human mind or anything else goes) is not at all easy for us. If anything, people of my Jungian personality type, at least, are more prone to “magical thinking” than to materialism of that sort. And I know at least one other person who may share your personality type that would never fall pry to determinism, but does fall prey to pantheism – the idea that the universe is itself God, and intelligent. You seem to be aware of this pitfall and strive to avoid it.

    There are other people, though, for whom the emergent process that tops our mental hierarchies (Jungian psychologists call it Extraverted Intuiting) is much harder to access. I notice that people in whom either the process that deal with models and frameworks of interpretation (Extraverted Thinking) or that which deals with formal logic (Introverted Thinking) is prominent have a much easier time thinking deterministically and a much harder time realizing that not everything can or should be predetermined (least of all the human mind and its connection with the rest of physical and spiritual reality). And I strongly suspect that these people above all are responsible for the canard that there is no free will and that the human mind is “just chemicals” interacting with each other.

    One of Satan’s great tricks in deceiving the world seems to lie in getting us to think that the way we naturally look at the world, each from our own hierarchy of thought processes, is the only “right” way or at least the “best” way. (That would be an application of “every man doing what is right in his own eyes”.) This applies to individuals, but also to corporate bodies – including bodies politic, churches and Church eras. And when I say the latter, I include Philadelphia (as you know). Here isn’t the place to try to explain why I say the latter, but piece by piece I hope I can get the pertinent information before you in the ministry who can consider such theses carefully and judge them.

  26. Howdy, Mr. Wheeler, and thanks for your comment. I must say that I do not recall skipping or deleting one of your comments, but maybe that is because it has been so long since I have visited this poor neglected blog of mine.

    And thanks for your nice comments on the article! I’ll have to consider the book that you mention.

  27. Don’t fret about it, Mr. Smith. One valuable thing I’ve learned about my Jungian personality type (ENFP) is that it’s best geared to think about models and frameworks of interpretation as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, that fact tempts me at times to rant “Is there a LOGICIAN in the house?!?” when really such a rant is not an appropriate response spiritually.

    I think one reason you’re usually much more cool-headed in the face of what Mr. Spock once called (in a novel) “brilliant displays of illogic” is that you may be an ENTP: Bugs Bunny to my Daffy Duck, if you please. 😀 One key to verifying that would be to learn if you find the give and take of debate energizing for its own sake, and a tool of learning. I do not. Having to exercise the thought processes involved is the hardest part of my service to the Church, by far. Some of our mutual friends in the senior ministry admire my ability to do so, but really that isn’t so much a gift as a virtue. I do it because I must. You seem more naturally gifted at it, and that’s why God uses you in the particular way He does. My strongest mental gifts are in drawing connections between ideas and then judging them in the light of personal and universal values. But I pay the price of not being able to keep my personal dogs out of the fight in a debate (not easily, anyway), and yet suffering because of the conflict itself.

    Please do consider that book. I know you’re very busy, but you could do us all a great service by reading and evaluating it. I hope to do the same from my perspective, since I’ve been learning so much lately about personality, character, intelligence and how the three interrelate in personality type models.

  28. Steve

    Hi, Mr Smith! Thanks for the lengthy reply to my comment. Boy, this has turned into a topic, or what!

    I really don’t see anything in your reply that I disagree with. In fact, your third paragraph hit the nail on the head! God cannot sin because He cannot act contrary to His nature. That’s Who He is! It’s what the Bible teaches!

    And that’s what I tried to say in my comment. God cannot sin because He will not sin. It goes against His very nature.

    In logic, you’re suppose to establish a universal. In this case, the univeral might be “does God have free moral agency?” Think about that. Does God have free moral agency? Yes? No?

    If the answer is no, then God cannot sin because He’s not a free moral agent. He has no choice in the matter! And such a conclusion would lead to other questions like… why would He create us as free moral agents when He Himself does not have it?

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that God does indeed have free moral agency. What then? A Being with unlimited ability, He cannot sin because He WILL NOT sin. It’s His very nature. It’s Who He is.

    And that’s where all rhetorical arguments break down. And that’s where life begins. Not everything is a function of logic or math, or what have we. It’s about life – beings with actual free moral agency -not robots.

    God made us free moral agents for a purpose.

    Well, this comment is getting long, so I’ll leave it go. You’ll know what’ll happen; don’t you? I’ll find out that I made a typo, or that I blew it somewhere.:)

    Thanks for the reply, Mr Smith. I don’t mind jaw-boning with a minister, because I might learn something here and there. People unwilling to do that miss an opportunity for a little education.

    PS. Your 9th paragraph to my previous comment was right. It was an inadvertent contradiction on my part. When I said that God could creat righteous character by fiat, I meant that He could create beings who couldn’t sin… which would make us robots. But that’s not the same thing as righteous character. You’re right.

  29. Howdy, Laughing Ninja.

    I’m afraid that I can’t agree with your reasoning, although I do agree with the fundamental point you wish to make: that “omnipotence” is often misunderstood. However, I believe that calling it “conditional omnipotence” confuses the point, because it implies that there is another kind of omnipotence, which there is not.

    “Situational ethics” is tossed around much too easily, and concessions that God makes given humanity’s inherent carnality do not imply that his ethics vary based on the situation. They imply that the viewpoint from which you are seeing them is too limited.

    The answer really is simple, and while your thoughts are interesting, they overcomplicate the matter, I think, and introduce some ideas that don’t seem biblical. The simple fact is that the question is inherently meaningless — like asking, “Can God be simultaneously omnipotent and powerless.” It’s not that the answer lies in semantics and word games, it’s just that the question has no real meaning. Like the mathematical puzzle: “If the local barber shaves all those in town who do not shave themselves and only shaves those who do not shave themselves, then who shaves the barber?” Such a barber cannot exist, because the only possible answers (“he shaves himself” or “someone else shaves him”) demonstrate that the original definition of the barber is nonsensical, because it does not allow the evidently true to be possible.

    Similarly, if “omnipotence” is to have any sensible meaning at all, it does not require its own contradiction — that is, there is no reason we need to define the word “omnipotent” to mean “not omnipotent,” which is how the “rock” question defines it. (Again, Taranto said it much more concisely than I did.)

    Thanks for writing!

  30. Desmond Warren

    I’ve heard this before so many times & was even challenged. I have learned to a method to silence non-believers before they can get to this question. They usually start with, do you believe that God can do anything? I would answer by saying “no”. That response alone would usually silences the unbeliever because they are counting on you to respond in the affirmative. I then tell them why I believe God can’t do all things by presenting several examples. 1) since He knows everything, He can’t learn, 2) He can’t be proven wrong & 3) He can’t lie.

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